E-Cigarettes and Exploding Nicotine Dependent Population
Studies have shown that approximately 20 million Americans use, or have used, an e-cigarette. This particular worldwide industry is estimated to be worth over $3 billion annually, and some estimates project that the industry will be worth over $10 billion by 2017. Furthermore, the e-cigarette industry advertises their product as a “safe” alternative to actual cigarettes, and many consumers see it as a new method to quit smoking or a way to feed a nicotine habit through safe delivery.
In addition to targeting lifetime smokers, the industry is also capturing a new consumer, more specifically young adults who had never previously smoked traditional cigarettes. As a result, these non-cigarette smokers have since developed a dependence on nicotine due to the e-cigarette industry.
The e-cigarette industry marketing campaigns lead consumers to believe that their products are safe, and unfortunately young adults are buying into it. A recent survey in New York indicated that 10.5% of high school students use e-cigarettes, and 12.7% of individuals between the ages of 18-24 use them. This is almost double the rate (6.5%) of users over the age of 25.
There is no dispute that the e-cigarette industry remains largely unregulated, and the industry is growing fast. We know that e-cigarettes deliver nicotine, and we already know that nicotine is highly addictive and unhealthy, particularly for minors. In a Health Policy Forum on e-cigarettes, a panel from the School of Medicine all agreed that anyone under the age of 21 should not use any devices that deliver nicotine into the body.
Besides being addictive, nicotine is also known to stunt cognitive growth in youth. This, of course, makes all the e-cigarette industry’s claims that its product is somehow still the “safe” alternative highly suspect. The fact is, e-cigarettes are not safe, they’re just the better of two bad options.